IBJNews

State's high court to weigh hospital bills

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court this week will consider whether hospital billing practices should be put on trial. The state’s highest court will hear oral arguments Thursday in a case in which two uninsured patients have sued Indiana University Health for charging them much higher prices than it would have charged someone with insurance.

IU Health won the first round in the 2-year-old fight, when a Marion Superior Court judge dismissed the patients’ lawsuit. But after a state appeals court judge reversed that decision, ordering the case back to the county level, IU Health appealed to the state’s highest court.

If the patients win again, they get the opportunity to take their case to trial. More importantly, the patients’ lawyers—and other trial attorneys around the state—are likely to bring similar cases against hospitals around the state.

The patients in the case—Abby Allen of Avon and Walter Moore of Carmel—were billed by IU Health’s North Hospital in Carmel at “chargemaster” rates—fees that are set primarily as a starting point for contract negotiations with insurance companies, which then wrangle for large discounts.

For years, hospitals raised their chargemaster rates annually in an effort to win higher reimbursement rates from health insurers. But the practice fell hard on uninsured patients until last year because most hospitals gave no more than a 20 percent discount to the uninsured.

Beginning last year, IU Health began offering 40 percent discounts to uninsured patients in order to comply with new rules that were part of the 2010 Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.

Still, lots of patients either paid much larger bills than their insured peers or, like Allen and Moore, paid nothing but instead had their credit records damaged when the hospital turned over their accounts to collection agencies.

Scott Weathers, the lead attorney for Allen and Moore, has said he wants to turn their case into a class-action against hospitals across Indiana, according to the Associated Press. For that reason, the Indiana Hospital Association has filed a brief with the Indiana Supreme Court asking it to find in IU Health’s favor.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

ADVERTISEMENT